from Pressure Points

Israeli Foreign Aid to American Jews

September 5, 2017

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It was bound to happen, sooner or later.

With the rapid increase over the years in Israel's GDP and in its population, Israel is no longer a poor country that needs the philanthropy of American Jews to survive. And the balance between the American Jewish population and the Israeli Jewish population has shifted as well. Depending on exactly how you count, there are more Jews in Israel today than in the United States--or if not, there will be soon. 

The terrible damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey affected, among other communities in Houston, the Jewish community there and its physical establishments, such as schools and synagogues. And now, as the Jerusalem Post reports, Israel is giving foreign aid to this American Jewish community. Here is part of the article: 

Diaspora Affairs Minister Bennett has pledged $1 million in relief aid for the Jewish community of Houston, saying, “The Jewish state is measured by its response when our brothers around the world are in crisis.”

According to a statement released by the ministry, this aid will be transferred through the Israeli Consulate in Texas, and will be used to help repair and restore the communal infrastructure – schools, synagogues and JCC – which are not funded or supported by the state.

Noting the severity of the damages, and how flooded schools and synagogues can’t be used, Bennett said: “The city of Houston was hurt badly last week, and the Jewish community – 70% of which lived in the flooded neighborhoods – was hit hard. The old-age home and JCC were damaged, and hundreds of families will remain homeless. From talks we’ve had over the past week with the heads of the community and Israel’s Consul General, we learned the damage is vast, and the rehabilitation will take years. For years the Jewish communities stood by Israel when it needed their help; now it is our turn to stand by Houston’s Jewish community.”

The Jerusalem Post calls this a "rare move," but I'd bet it will be less rare over time. It is logical to expect Israel to show, in ways such as this, that it is steadily becoming the largest and most important Jewish community in the world. Once upon a time, the center of world Jewish life was in Israel; then it moved to Europe; then to the United States; and now it is moving back to where it all began. 


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